Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.
Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.
Below is a sample version of this entry to help you see how an occupation can reveal your character’s beliefs, history, goals, and more.
To view the full entry, visit One Stop for Writers where it resides within the largest fiction-based descriptive database ever created. (Free Trial available.)
Occupation: Personal Assistant (to a celebrity)
Overview: A personal assistant is required to perform a variety of duties at the whim of their employer, many of which will be industry-specific to the type of work their employer is involved in. For this entry, we will look at an assistant to a celebrity, but personal assistants may also work for politicians, diplomats, CEOs, best-selling authors, entertainment industry executives, fashion designers, royalty…
An assistant for a celebrity will be required to be “on call” and to perform many types of tasks (scheduling appearances, organizing events, attending to social media, collecting work-related materials, planning travel, couriering more sensitive personal documents or important items, melding the celebrity’s personal and professional calendar, and coordinating with other key personnel….
Assistants must be fierce advocates of their employer, ensuring their every need is met whether they are at home, traveling, or getting ready to perform or be interviewed. Celebrities don’t make requests–they make demands, and each, regardless of how easy or hard it is, must be done immediately…
Assistants can often become confidants and secret keepers….
Necessary Training: While no official degree is required to become a personal assistant, connections in the industry can help one procure a job. A character seeking this type of job should have a strong command of social media, know their celebrity’s industry inside and out, have their finger on the pulse of trends and gossip within the celebrity’s realm, and be very comfortable with…
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, blending in, charm, empathy, enhanced hearing, esp (clairvoyance), exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills, haggling…
Helpful Character Traits: Adaptable, adventurous,alert, ambitious, bold, calm, charming, confident, cooperative, courteous, creative, decisive, diplomatic, disciplined, discreet, efficient, extroverted, friendly, hospitable…
Sources of Friction: Dealing with an impossible request, being asked to do something illegal or immoral to fulfill a request, being unfairly treated because the celebrity is upset and the assistant is “safe” to lash out at, a celebrity that crossing the line to make inappropriate advances, being blamed for something the celebrity did to save them face, being approached by another celebrity to work for them, an injury or illness that interferes with one’s ability to perform duties, discovering something disturbing about the celebrity’s friends and being asked to participate in a cover up…
People They Might Interact With: the celebrity’s family, agent, and friends, various other handlers or advisors (a personal trainer, nutritionist, therapist, doctors, nannies, coaches, tutors, drivers, managers, etc.), travel specialists, hotel management and staff, venue staff, green room managers…
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: A character who is so caught up in this profession may never be able to take the time to pursue their own passions and dreams.
- Love and Belonging: In this career, one’s personal life will always be sacrificed for the needs of one’s employer. Family who don’t understand the commitment needed for this career (or resent it), or a lack of personal relationships due to…
- Safety and Security: Being closely tied to a celebrity could be dangerous as many have fans who are rabidly devoted. These fans, and those who are certified stalkers, may go to any length to…
Common Work-Related Settings: airplane, airport, art gallery, ballroom, bank, bar, big city street, black-tie event, boardroom, casino, casual dining restaurant, coffeehouse, cruise ship, elevator, fitness center, flower shop, green room, hair salon, hotel room, jewelry store, kitchen, laundromat, limousine, liquor store, living room, man cave, mansion, marina, movie theater, museum, nightclub, nursery, outdoor pool, parking garage, parking lot, patio deck, penthouse suite, performing arts theater, race track (horses), ranch, recording studio, rock concert, shopping mall, ski resort, spa, sporting event stands, subway train, taxi, therapist’s office, trendy mall clothing store, tropical island, upscale hotel lobby, Vegas stage show, waiting room, wedding reception, winery, yacht
Twisting the Stereotype:
- personal assistants are often relatives or friends of the celebrity. Why not bring someone from the celebrity’s past who was a rival, but happens to be the best assistant in the business?
Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.
How will your character’s occupation help reveal their innermost layers?
Much of your character’s life will revolve around their work, and whether they love it or hate it, their job is a great way to show, not tell, their personality traits, skills, work ethic, worldview and beliefs, and more, so we should choose it with care.
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Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Roland Clarke says
Perfect timing. Angela. I’ve been slowly developing a PA to a fashion designer and there are so many valuable suggestions here. My mystery can now have more depth.
Sharon Mayhew says
You guys are brilliant!
Traci Kenworth says
Good occupation! I’ve seen it used effectively in stories. I like the suggestions to avoid stereotypes.
Yet another good one! 🙂 Any possible for EMTs? 🙂